Mens 4’s v Croydon 2’s – Continue to win points from higher placed teams

AndrewM Match reports, Men's 4th xi

Onto the twilight phase of the season, and where we see ourselves pitched against the majority of the top teams in closing games. But we do tend to pick up points here and no surprises today. So securing our 6th position would be a fantastic result for a great season,  considering we were 3rd in Div 2 last year, and on paper we should be in the drop zone of Division 1 the following year.   But no, we have thoroughly deserved our place in the league and defied the odds to warrant our place and hopefully be a thorn in many teams. Interestingly 2 seasons ago when we were again in Div 1, we earned just 13 points for the year, and now we are up to a very respectable 30 points – so that’s progress for you….

Preparation for the game was key (as always), starting with a phone call from Simon saying he had left his astro’s behind and did I have a spare pair? Good news I did have a spare pair of Jack’s in the car, but bad news he is like a growing puppy and were size 12. And then Jammo decided we would try an unorthodox tactic, and  scare the oppo by not warming up fully today, and after all we are all young fit specimens (not) so who needs a proper warm up hey. What possibly could go wrong?

Eventually a game of hockey broke out, and is was a close pitched affair between Croydon 2’s in 5th position, and Epsom 4’s in 6th. We had added a bit more youth to the side in the guise of Will Blease and Luke Adams (welcome back guys), and some good flowing hockey was played by both teams. Regrettably Maj did an impression of Bambi on Ice and twice fell over backwards, the first time no one noticed, and the second time was sort of important as was in our D and gave the ball to their attacker who turned on the ball and rolled it into our goal with so little pace that it barely crossed the line, but defeated Tom in goal who had wheel-spun off in the other direction. So 1-0 down, but we do like coming from behind.

Not to be outdone by bad luck, Epsom battled back and Will cracked a ball through a few defenders where I was waiting for a tap in, but it deflected off a Croydon stick on the way through, past the keeper and in for an equaliser. We’ll call this a Will goal, as I have claimed one of my few goals this season in similar fashion, but when I was on our half way line (just call me Beckham). Complete Epsom dominance then followed and we tore Croydon apart, and being rewarded when Will and Luke broke away with just the keeper to beat, Will expertly slipping the ball across to Luke who slid in for a goal of the season contender. Then a further period of pressure ended with Jack expertly getting round the keeper, onto his favourite reverse side and for a simple reverse tap into an open goal. Regrettably Jack did not realise how cunning and expert his turn was, as had left all defenders behind, and to be fair (actually lets forget fair, as it was a terrible miss) no one told him he was in acres if space in front of a now open and unguarded Croydon goal, and he slipped the ball wide of the post.

Gutted, as we should have been 3-1 up at half time, and a safe and nice psychological buffer to take into the second half, but 2-1 it was.

Onto the second half, and more even play by both teams, but Croydon had the better chances with 4-5 short corners against our no short corners for the day, and 2-3 good chances which they did not put away. Tom Walters making some great saves on both posts, and at one point hiding the ball under his helmet literally on the line.   I was hoping for another bundle, or the attackers to batter Tom’s head, but Croydon very kindly stepped away for a short corner award.

A claim for an own goal against Maj (hasn’t he done other possible TFC rewarding things already?) when the ball was cracked in, came very close to Maj’s stick before going in the goal – but the umpire agreed it did not touch and goal correctly disallowed – but it was a very close call. Further pressure then paid off for Croydon as a short corner was eventually smacked in, and under the diving attempts of Tom.  So 2-2 it was, but could have been 3-3 or 4-4. An even game, and 1 point each seems a fair result, with both teams I am sure confident they could/should have won.

Loads of options for TFC today, but do not want to embarrass anyone by listing them – so here they are (1) Simon forgetting his shoes, (2) Maj falling over twice and giving away the second goal, and nearly scoring their winning goal, and then taking a timed 17 minutes in the showers after the game (3) Jammo for not needing a warm up and pulling his hamstring during the second half;  but TFC has to go to Jack (4) for falling over a few times, and for that amazing spin round the keeper for a sure match winning 3-1 position, and missing what we can only call a totally open goal from about 4 foot out !      Man of match was an equally  close affair between Luke and Will who both had great return games for the 4’s but goes to Will who scored the first, and set up the second goal and caused Croydon hassles all through the game.